Friday, August 21, 2015

Now Here’s a Little Story That I Got To Tell…

By Isaac Lomeli

              No, this is not an Ode to, Beastie Boys; but it is a story about Paul Revere.  It is not about a quart of bear, but story we can all hold dear.  That’s about as far as I’m going to go with the rhyming; let’s move forward with reminiscing. 
              For me it started way back in 1978.  Paul Revere was just a name of a school—I had no knowledge of his gallant ride through the streets of Charlestown screaming, the British are coming—and the place where I began kindergarten in Ms. Jockman’s class.  Where I would meet my BFF, Nene; the prettiest girl ever, Kelly Smith; my first kick in the privates via, Erica Webb; my first fan in Lorena; my childhood bully named, Mike Gomez; and of course the official Pre-Madonna—which simply means she came before the artist Madonna, and not that she was stuck up—Mia Chang. 
              In this short story it would be impossible to mention everyone and everything—that would take a novel; which I’m currently working on—but I will take this moment to bring back some shining memories for us all to look back and laugh, cry, or do what you do. 
              For all of us, it is where we learned about foursquare, tetherball, and standing on the line.  They don’t stand on the line anymore, but they should.  Now I’m not sure if it was, Machiavelli who said this, but it sounds like him, “Punish the individual in front of the masses, and the masses will follow.”  That was sure the intentions of standing on the line—and I suppose of the whole yellow card, red card, black card system that got you there—and for me it surely worked.  I had much preferred to stand on the line that got me next in the D square, than the line of shame that got me nowhere.  Kid’s today are out of control; we need to put them on the line.
              First grade wasn’t too bad.  I had Ms. Liska, and it’s where we learned to sing, My Country Tis of Thee…God Bless America…and I believe some other tunes I can’t remember now [but if you happen to remember, please list them].  It’s also when we all learned how horrible those school lunches were.  Even so, I do crave those peanut butter and honey sandwiches from time to time.   I remember coming home on a half-day with one of those lunches; my mom took one bite of those wannabe tuna salad sandwiches  and called the school to complain; and that was the last time for a long time I ate the school lunch.
              Then came 2nd grade.  Did anyone else get the feeling Ms. Parkay might have been a little prejudice?  Perhaps I was just a troublesome 2nd grader, but man, she seemed to have no patience with me.  She put me in the lowest reading group for some reason—which took me until the 6th grade to get out of, in which Mrs. Lindau finally realized I was quite out of place and jumped me two reading levels up—and never said my first name correctly (she said it like she was angry at it).  Come on, she had all white her, was about almost 60 years old, it was 1981…she had to have been a little prejudice.  Or was just a pill in the 2nd grade? 
              Third grade was probably the time we all figured out who are friends were and weren’t.  We learned to be young adults.  We had the system down by now.  In my experience with substitute teaching elementary school kids, 3rd graders are the most well behaved.  They know the game, they know the rules; and they play the game and follow the rules.  They are nothing like 4th, 5th, and 6th graders who know about crossing the line and breaking the rules. 
              Ms. Swank was probably the nicest teacher I ever had.  So nice that Erika and Kelly pulled a fast one on her.  Erika was not supposed to be in our class, but she had to be with Kelly, so she simply lied and Ms. Swank believed her.  Come on, let me and Nene try that.  We’d both be in Principle Bosio’s office.  Anyway, I think 3rd grade is where we began chasing girls.  And, everyone was after Kelly; but Erika being the tomboy she was, she was basically Kelly’s bodyguard.  I was a recipient of one of Erika’s brutal tackles.  All I remember was almost catching Kelly and BAMB!  I was on my back looking up at Erika.  Oh, but Quinten…that pretty boy…they all just loved them some Quinten.  Third grade was home to some hard lessons about life and women.
              But, on a bright note, Lorena took a boy in.  She saw me all alone before school one day and invited me over to chill with her and her older friends.  I felt pretty special hangingout with the 5th graders.  I must have been something special, because she even gave me a Halloween card for no reason.  I have never in my life, even until this day, have received a Halloween card—take that Quinten.
              Not much to say about 4th grade.  We were all afraid of Ms. Harris.  Well, except Nene.  One day Nene was leaning back on his chair—a big no-no in Ms. Harris’s classroom—and she came up behind him and grabbed him by his hair.  Well, in case none of you know, Nene’s mom was an old white woman herself.  She was not having it.  I can only remember the look on her face when she immediately called the school when we got home that day and told her what had happened.  Needless to say, no teacher at Paul Revere ever wanted him in there class again.  Ms. Harris didn’t even look in his direction the rest of that year.  
All I can say is, thank God I had Ms. Rivera.  This is where I met the two most laughingest  girls I have ever met, Jodi and Shannon.  Everything was funny to them and we never knew what they were laughing about. 
              Fifth grade was probably my worst year.  I started off Mr. Bower’s student; which was great, Kelly and Erika where there.  But, it was also the year I had to start eating those horrible school lunches again because my parents split up.  I also moved away for a few months, and when I came back I was put in Ms. Young Teacher’s class [If any of you can remember, let me know].  She could not handle us.  We made her cry and leave the room.  I didn’t think we were really being that bad; she just didn’t have any patients or backbone.  It was because of her inability to control the class that lead to my altercation with my first bully, Mike Gomez. 
              Hey, every story has to have a bad guy—sorry Mike, it’s my story, so I get to play the good guy; no hard feelings—and he should be able to take it, since I had to take it for the next 5 years.  Besides, that’s what he gets (at least he made the story and in plenty other stories including my first novel, so maybe it pays to be a bully; you get the attention you’ve always wanted).  Well, that’s enough about the 5th grade.
              To finish us off, we have the 6th grade.  Mrs. Lindau.  Wow.  For whatever reason this woman loved me.  She believed in me.  She encouraged me to write.  She believed I was better than I was.  And, she hated Nene.  He lasted a week in her class.  She straight up told him, “Leave Isaac alone.”  She later told me, “You shouldn’t be hanging out with that kid.”  Well, I took part of her advice.  I kept up the writing, but I never stopped hangout with Nene. 
              So, I have to tell on myself here.  I messed up.  I did something horrible.  I ruined what should have been a lifelong friendship.  I threw away 7 years of fond memories just because I wanted to be funny.  It was the last day of school and Kelly hands me her little paper yearbook they gave us.  I handed her mine and we wrote away. 
              Now, I had the opportunity to impress her with my way of words and express to her how wonderful the year have been getting to know her and enjoying her beauty.  She was the prettiest girl in school for all 7 years.  And, I should have told her that.  Instead I told her this, “Kelly, your face is great, but your body is bait.” 
Yeah, I know.  Unforgivable.  I carried around the shame for almost 30 years.  God bless Kelly’s heart, because in 2011 at our high school reunion I was finally able to say, I’m sorry, and she forgave me.  She still remembered what I had said. 
Kelly and I spent Jr. high and high school estranged.  Her locker was right next to mine in 9th grade and she never spoke a word to me and I was too ashamed to even look her way.  We had 12 grade English together and we talked around each other like we were strangers.  I don’t know who was hurt more by it; but I do know, she didn’t deserve to hurt, but I did. 
So what’s the moral of all this?  Folks of Paul Revere, we all have a connection to each other.  We all have memories to share.  It’s a shame any of us didn’t stay in touch.  As life may have shown you already, but most certainly shortly will, the people who share our past will grow fewer and fewer.  For now we can say to each other, “Remember when…that one time?”  Soon the day will come when we only have ourselves to say that too.  Paul Revere will only be remembered by these words and in pictures. 
Thank you all for sharing my life with me at Paul Revere.  Thank you for the stories I have to write today.  You are all unforgettable.  Let us come together soon to create and relive memories, and remember memories we’ve lost.  Hope to see you all soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Where Do We Go Now?

              As the song in my head fades out to the last lines, “Where do we go…Where do we go now”  my heart swells with emotion.  The song had often been one of my favorites, but I was often confused about its meaning; especially the last lines.
              Today, the song’s meaning is powerful and profound.  I’m not one who believes that poetry or lyrics are relative in meaning, but perhaps it will work for me better if I take liberty here.  I just can’t shake this song out of my mind every time I see her face…and I’m not sure why; so in my effort to figure it out, I am writing this.
              It was love at first sight when I first laid eyes on her smile—it has been 25 years since that moment, but I can see it clear as if it happened today.  I hear Axle sing, “She’s got a smile that it seems to me…reminds me of childhood memories…where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky.”  And, just like the song, today I see her now and then, and her face takes me away to that special place; a place where we were both young, looking for someone to love us and take us away from our pain.  And, sometimes when I look at her and she looks at me I turn away and she wonders why, and again Axel sings, “…if I stared too long I’d probably break down and cry.” 
              I do cry sometimes looking at her, because I can’t pull away from her beautiful face—a face that has captivated me for so long.  I cry because of the pain we have both felt because we never had our moment to love each other; but now we do.  I cry because God has finally answered my teenage request and given me the woman I prayed for.  I cry for all the innocents that was and is now lost; but I cry also for the joy we can now fully recognize. 
I look at her now and she still has the face that brings me back to my more innocent times.  It wasn’t just her beauty—though she was fine beyond measure—there were plenty of beautiful girls around; it was her kindness towards me.  She was modest, did not flaunt, and never arrogant.  She treated this ugly duckling as a friend and an equal.  She was sweet; sweet child o' mine.  Sweet love of mine.
I remember her eyes, how they always seemed to sparkle; and I remember her telling me, “It’s because I want to cry.”  It was true, she was being hurt by her boyfriend at the time; thus, it is why her eyes looked, “…as if they thought of rain.”  One of the worst things I ever saw in my youth was her crying on a bench, it was more than an ounce of pain, and all I could do was accept her request for me to take a seat next to her.  I did, and she smiled and we talked of other things. 
As Axel continues to sing towards the end of the song, he reminds me of her hair, “Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place where as a child I'd hide, and pray for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by.”  Her hair was long, curly, and fluffy; just beautiful.  In my teenage years, whenever life was difficult, I went to my minds images of her smiling back at me, and I stayed in my memories of her for as long as needed. 
For a long time I took the song to mean, that the girl I fell in love with at first sight was never to be mine.  That I would always love her from a far.  That over the years every time I saw her I would be reminded of the true meaning of love at first sight, and of true beauty, and of my lost innocence.  And, the last words of the song use to mean, now that she is gone from me, where do I go to be reminded of those things?  Where do I go to hide from the pain in my life? 
Now, those words that confused me, “Where do we go?  Where do we go now?  Where do we go? Sweet child o' mine”, now comfort me.  Where do we go now?  From this point on; where do we go?  I am comforted because I believe what Axel was telling me is, where do we go now that we have each other?  For me the answer is, forever.   

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Flash Flood

When love comes like a flash flood
to the desert in our hearts,
we enjoy the wet rain so much
we ignore the storm

and enjoy the dry pain being washed away.
Being so dry in our hearts that cracks appear,
like on chapped lips no one wants to kiss.
Our thirsty hearts feel drenched
and often it is too late when we realize
that a flood has developed
and is taking us away,

and all we can do is not drown.
And if we are strong enough
to keep our head above our heart
we end up far from where we were
and left hung out to dry,

but alive.
Alive, we stand along the shore,
and the only thing we have to wonder is,
“Was it worth risking going out in the storm; or should I have stayed indoors?”
But we are alive.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Silva Trained: About Leadership

              There comes a time in everyone’s life when we meet someone who inspires us to do more than we’ve ever done before; to be better than we are; to see what we can usually only be seen through the eyes of wishful thinking, and give you the tools to make it all a reality. 
              For the past 15 years this man has unknowingly been the fuel of my fire.  Vince Silva is a 2 time All American out of Oklahoma State.  His remarkable wrestling career has been met with great accomplishment as well as by great adversity.  In all, he has grown into being the person that has most represented for me what it is to be a wrestler, a coach, and what it takes to be the best. 
              I decided to interview  him because he has taught me so much about being a Wrestler and I wanted to share his wisdom with other wrestlers and people who have a desire to lead; because, what Coach Silva does isn’t simply coach us, but leads us. 

1.  What is leadership and what makes a good leader (or coach)?
              “The ability to influence people’s actions, and beliefs...and in some cases, their values.”  This is Silva’s definition of leadership.  I can safely assume that he means this in a positive way, even though we can see this in leaders who haven’t been positive for society.  He once told me, “Lomeli, I can’t teach values…parents do that.  I can only reveal them.”  His hope is that when he reveals values to his wrestlers they will be swayed.
              To the second part of this question, he simply states that leading by example is the best form of leadership.  This is based on his experience. He goes on further to say, that if you demonstrate the knowledge and skill and confidence when demonstrating technique, or performing a task that you would have others do this in part breeds that same confidence in the people you lead.  They view you as being competent and capable of leading them.  “When you demonstrate success...people will cling to you, listen to you...and most importantly begin to respect you.” 
              To add, he stresses that you always keep up with knowledge or skills in whatever you do to maintain your leadership status; or get people around you who can, and use them to maintain your leadership position.  As a wrestling coach it is important to stay in shape and continue to wrestle and workout in practice.  It is important to constantly learn the sport and how it changes as far as technique and style.

2.  In your opinion, what is the best way to inspire a team or player?
              “Share the glory...the journey...the pitfalls.”  Through stories, Silva feels inspiration is best accomplished.  Stories of accomplishment that will demonstrate the example of what it is you are motivating them to do.  It is equally as important to demonstrate the adversity (pitfalls) that happen.  To be able to see how people they admire handle adversity.  You have to be able to be articulate and be able to move your audience. 
              What I personally have gained from Coach Silva is, always reward the good the people you lead do.  “Criticize their behavior, not them”  (Silva), is something I’ve demanded other coaches to do.  This I think is what coaches really lack.  Criticizing behavior is to let the person know what it takes to be the best and show them that what they are doing will not get them what they want.  Don’t call him a lazy good for nothing bum; instead tell him that those who want to win, “get up at 6 am and run.”
3.  Can you learn to be a great coach or is it something you’re born with?
              Simply, “Yes.”  But he adds, “It is necessary to associate yourself with great coaches.”  Keep an open mind and not be stubborn, be able to adjust to the needs of your team and know what other coaches do that work.  Bottom line, “YOU HAVE TO HAVE PASSION.”  Without it, he says, “Nothing matters.”  You have to have the fire and desire to be the best.
4.  What should be the main goal or purpose of a leader (in sport or life)?
              “From a coaching stand is to assist others in doing what they wouldn’t normally do on their own that is a positive act.”  Now is that a quote?  To paraphrase the remainder of his answer:  It is important to want to be able to contribute to the success of others by passing on the torch of your knowledge and experience.
5.  What is your personal philosophy of leadership or coaching?
“Anyone, anywhere, any time.  In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.”  ‘Nuff said.     
6.  What is your design for success?
I am happy to have influenced his answer here.  I had previously written about the wrestling life based on what Coach Silva had shown me.  I pointed out the principle of obsession.  After reading my write up, he began delivering messages that included this principle.  Again, to paraphrase, he says, be passionate, full of obsession, and follow a proven path.  Attach yourself to someone who has what you want and do what great people do.  Well, if you are Silva trained then you know his coaching path.

              As a bonus, he gave me this potato chip piece of advice ;) “But the main thing, just got to be tough.  Mentally strong…to win…to succeed you got to be tough…Monster tough.”  This is everything in a nutshell.  In regards to coaching, I’m sure he was saying, you can’t be weak; you can’t give in to coaching to your talent, but coach to your team.  Coaching to your talent means, you let your talented wrestlers do as they please.  You let them dictate your coaching.  You bow to them.  Coaching to you team, means being strong enough to hold on to integrity.  
              To summarize, leadership is based on your ability to motivate, not dictate.  Be able to demonstrate with skill and confidence the things you would have others do.  And to do it for the sake of the sparkle in their eye from what you have helped them accomplish.  If you can get them to respect you and believe in you, you can get them to follow you.  Very Jesus like, isn’t it.  “Do as I have done, love others as I have loved you.  They will know you by your love. ” 
              Of everything I know about the man, his desire to want what is best for his wrestlers is what shines.  If I can add something to all this, let me say this.  Let your light shine.  In your light you will reveal the light in others, and they in return will shine.  We don’t believe in Silva because of his wrestling, we believe in him because he opens his heart us.  Though he probably doesn’t see this, it is why we follow him, believe in him, and are inspired by him.  It is his love. 
              Now Coach once told me, “Isaac, I shy away from weakness.  I don’t like seeing it; and sometimes it may come off as though I don’t care.  But the truth is, I care, but me showing weakness won’t help my wrestlers.”  To a point he is right.  We all see him as being our mighty hero who shows us strength in our time of need…not weakness.  However, what brings us to love him is in his weakness.  His stories make this strong man appear weak, and this is why we listen; because we are weak, we can relate.  And in his weakness he shows us how, in our weakness, we can rise…WE CAN RISE!  Amen.